Magazine article Tablet Magazine

Ron Paul: An Iowa Anti-Endorsement

Magazine article Tablet Magazine

Ron Paul: An Iowa Anti-Endorsement

Article excerpt

As a Jew, I hope Rep. Ron Paul does not win today's Iowa caucuses. This isn't about policy differences, although certainly, say, the Republican Jewish Coalition found enough simply in Paul's policieshis support for a more isolationist stance, including reducing aid to Israel, and his total lack of concern for Iran's race to build nuclear weaponsto condemn him. It is the publication in the 1990s of newsletters, under his name and reportedly written by a close adviser, that trafficked in racism, homophobia, and anti-Semitism (greatest hits here), combined with his refusal to treat this fact as something serious rather than a bugaboo trumped up by his enemies and the mainstream media, or to acknowledge that he was aware of the newsletters' contents and defended them. It's his rantings about the Trilateral Commission. It's comparing Gaza to a concentration camp. You can make a case that President Obama is wrong on Israel, but you can't in good faith argue that he is motivated by anti-Jewish animus. Ron Paul, by contrast, is not one of our friends.

Yet it is not unlikely that Paul will win the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuseshe was the fairly clear frontrunner not two weeks ago, although he has since lost ground, so that overall frontrunner Mitt Romney is now considered the favorite. Which puts Jewish Republicans in a tricky position! To the long list of reasons why Jews typically don't vote Republican could be added the fact that lots of Republicans do vote for this reactionary little man. In a year (happy new year, by the way!) when the Democratic standard-bearer may be especially vulnerable among Jews and the Republican standard-bearer, assuming it's Romney, may be pretty appealing, the last thing the Republican establishment wants Jewish voters to do is associate the party with Paul.

Enter the argument that Paul is actually a liberal, or at least draws much of his support and enthusiasm from liberals. It's not as ludicrous as it seems on its face (on its face, it's completely ludicrous: the man has run for the Republican nomination, twice). A recent poll argued that Paul does derive much of his support from non-Republicans; his positions on the war on drugs and gay marriage are much more compassionate and sensible than those of his competitors, although I would ask people suckered by this to read what Paul's newsletters had to say about inner-city blacks and homosexuals.

However, it is undeniable that Paul's ideology is classic, pre-William F. Buckley conservatism, and that the single largest and most coherent voting bloc that is likely to support him is not leftists or radical independents or progressives but Tea Partiers. Indeed, the ultimate Tea Party politician is generally thought to be Sen. Rand Paul of KentuckyRon Paul's son, and a key supporter. And the Tea Party is fundamentally a Republican bloc. Rand Paul advocated ending aid to Israel, and nobody seriously suggests he's not a true Republican. So this argument that Paul is properly understood as somehow un-Republican is sophism, ranging somewhere on the spectrum between disingenuous and dishonest. …

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